But back to cinema. At the beginning of February I saw two films, one after another, and I realised that in each film there was a scene which was almost identical. The first was “Das Leben der Anderen”, the lives of others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s film about a GDR secret policeman. This fellow, played by Ulrich Muhe, is given the task of monitoring the lives and conversations of people whose existence is much more interesting than his own, and whom he slowly becomes attached to. And the second one? Well, Kaurismaki’s “I hired a contract killer”, the only film that Kaurismaki made in English. Kaurismaki’s movie stars Jean-Pierre Leaud as a terminally depressed Frenchman, Henri Boulanger, who decides to end it all — with the help of hired killer, because he can’t bear to do it himself. Of course, at that moment, more or less, he falls in love, and decides that life is worth living after all. But how to call off the killer?
Both characters are not exactly surrounded by friends. Mr. Leaud (who got his start in cinema playing the small boy in Truffaut’s classic “400 coups”), upon learning he has been made redundant from his job of fourteen years, goes to the telephone booth. We see him desperately flicking through his address book — which is totally blank. Our GDR secret policeman is similarly isolated.
In the identical scenes, we see our ‘heroes’ at home after a day at work. Herr Muhe’s apartment is almost completely empty. It’s full of those browns and greys which were so popular at the beginning of the 1970s. Empty bookshelfs. A television. Mr. Muhe produces a bowl of rice and adds tomato sauce (yum!) and sits down at his kitchen table.
Mr. Leaud, on the other hand, sits at his table which has a tasteful blue checked tablecloth, and listens to the radio while thoughtfully eating what I think are scones. Two of them. Again, its the 1970s, or thereabouts, I would guess. Kaurismaki has a habit of making films which are set at least twenty or thirty years before they were filmed.
The point of all of this? None, really. An interesting echo, is all. Thank you for your attention, and good night.